LONDON – The world’s biggest film awards are trying to stop the all-white, all-male shortlists that their voting members often create.
Earlier this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, is again organizing expanded its membership bring in more people of color. It was also launched earlier this month Diversity criteria for nominated films in some categories according to the leadership of the BAFTAs, Britain’s premier film awards.
Now the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which organizes the awards, has announced that it will go further.
Starting with the awards in 2021, all 6,700 voting members of BAFTA must complete subconscious bias training prior to voting.
In each category a longlist is created by their first votes (a first for the awards). Members then need to look at all of the longlist titles before they can vote in the next round to determine nominees. The nominees then go to a final vote, and again voters must watch all films through an online portal (which will be received for 2022 and guarantee playback) if they want to have their say. The new rule aims to increase the variety of films viewed: time-limited voters could otherwise only focus on the most hyped titles.
BAFTA also announced more specific interventions for some categories of awards. For the best director, for example, half of the places on the 20-person longlist go to women. For the current prizes, the longlist is selected by a mixture of member votes and the selection of the jury, before the nominees and the winner are determined by membership in the following rounds.
Another important change is that a studio can only nominate one actor for a grand or minor award, not both categories as previously allowed. Actors may only be included in the longlist once in each acting category in order to prevent this year’s events from being repeated. when Margot Robbie was nominated twice for the best supporting actress award, and no people of color.
BAFTA also said it plans to increase its membership by 1,000, with targets for under-represented groups, but a spokeswoman declined to provide further details.
“This is a turning point,” BAFTA chairman Krishnendu Majumdar said on Thursday in a press release announcing the changes. “This creative renewal is not just about changing the awards,” he added. “This is a reassessment of our values.”
British film awards such as the Oscars have been denounced for lack of diversity. In 2016 There was a demonstration outside The awards ceremony where only one black actor, Idris Elba, was nominated in the four acting categories. This year there were no black people nominated for best actor or actress, and no women for best director. The resulting excitement dominated the headlines around the awards and even the ceremony itself.
“I think we are sending a very clear message to people of color that you are not welcome here,” said Joaquin Phoenix as he accepted his best actor award for his performance in “Joker” at the ceremony.
Clive NwonkaA researcher at the London School of Economics who studies races in the UK film industry said in a telephone interview that many changes to BAFTA are required, but the on-screen and crew display is beyond BAFTA control. Film studios and funding organizations need to encourage more diversity, he said. “What BAFTA is proposing will only work for the agendas of a much more diverse film industry if the production side is working too,” he said.
BAFTA film committee chairman Marc Samuelson said in a Zoom interview that the changes would not rule out the possibility of voters choosing all-white or all-male shortlists.
The most important changes are the new longlist rule and the requirement that members must see all nominated films in every category they vote on. These updates should increase the reach of the movies being watched. “You often hear people afterwards say, ‘Oh, I didn’t have time to look at this, but it was really good and I probably would have voted for it,” said Samuelson.
According to Freuds, BAFTA’s PR agency, voting members must view the films through the portal on a website that keeps a record of their viewing to ensure they meet the requirements.
BAFTA said in a press release that unconscious bias training – known as “conscious voter training” – “will help voters manage and recognize the broader societal influences that can affect the voting process.”
Samuelson said the training would simply make members “think deeper about their decisions”.
However, he would not comment on whether the Oscars should take action similar to the BAFTA measures announced on Thursday. “I don’t think we have to tell them anything,” he said. “BAFTA needs to clean up its side of the street. I really hope this is a good start.”